A Headhunter With Many Meanings
What is a headhunter? Well, it can be any one of three things, a pitcher in baseball, a savage, or an executive recruiter. But when you get right down to it what does the word headhunter really mean?
Definition of a Headhunter
There are three main definitions of a headhunter:
(1) a pitcher in baseball who intentionally seeks to harm an opponent
(2) a member of any tribe or race of savages who have the custom of decapitating human beings and preserving their heads as trophies
(3) a person whose profession is to find executives to fill open positions in corporations
The Baseball Headhunter
In baseball, a beanball is a pitch which is intentionally thrown at a batter’s head. Pitchers who are know to throw beanballs are know as Headhunters. A headhunter who throws a beanball rarely uses it as a strategic throw, most of the time it is thrown in anger and frustration. However batters who are facing known headhunters may alter their approach to hitting the ball in interest of self protection. In the history of major league baseball there has been only one player who has died after being hit by a headhunter, Indians shortstop Ray Chapman, who was hit by a beanball on August 16, 1920 and died twelve hours later.
The Tribal Headhunter
Headhunting has been practiced all throughout history in almost every corner of the world. In fact headhunters had thrived in the Balkan region right up until the early 20th century. Headhunter tribes usually believed in the existence of soul matter, which could be captured and added to the general stock of soul matter belonging to the tribe. The soul matter could then be used in rituals to contribute to anything from the fertility of the human population, to livestock and even crops. Taking the head of an enemy was also said to weaken the power of that enemy. Headhunters would keep the heads as trophies as tokens of courage and manhood. In many societies, young headhunters are not able to marry until they have taken their first head.
“…there came vividly to my mind recollections of the head-hunters–those grim, flinty, relentless little men, never seen, but chilling the warmest noonday by the subtle terror of their concealed presence…” The Head-Hunter, by O. Henry (1862-1910)
The Corporate Headhunter
A headhunter is another name for an executive recruiter who usually operates as a third-party, whereas a recruiter who works in-house is known as Human Resources. The first person who described their profession as a ‘headhunter’ would have probably been using the term jokingly, well aware that their audience knew the normal (tribal) meaning of headhunting. However the headhunter name caught on due largely to the efforts of the people engaged in headhunting. Headhunters quite literally “pirate” the heads and key people of a corporation, leaving that corporation without their leadership, and core people – subsequently loping off the heads of the organization.
Other Famous Headhunters
The Headhunters is a professional wrestling tag team that consists of twin brothers Manuel and Victor Santiago
US 9th Cavalry Regiment is nicknamed the Headhunters, because it was estimated to have been responsible for 50% of the enemy kills during the Vietnam War
The Headhunters are a popular jazz-funk fusion band, best known for their albums they recorded with jazz keyboard player Herbie Hancock during the 1970s
US 80th Fighter Squadron was nicknamed the Headhunters after the local New Guinean Headhunter tribes who hated the Japanese and helped to rescue downed pilots.
David Leonhardt is a freelance writer from Canada. If you seek a corporate headhunter to find you the best staff, the Online Recruiters Directory is a great resource. You can also find a headhunter with this simple search form.